Stephen Curry is on a tear. His scorching red hot start has made every Warriors game must see TV and has led to Sportscenter regularly leading with #StephGonnaSteph watch. Curry has scored over 30 six times, over 40 three times, all while never logging over 40 minutes. Any superlative used to describe his play to open the 2015/16 season would be underselling it.
Curry is not the first player to go on a massive scoring binge, but the sheer efficiency of it feels unprecedented in recent history. Drawing inspiration from Jason Patt’s article on Kevin Durant’s 2013/14 scoring streak, I decided to compare Curry’s numbers to other notable scoring binges of the last 15 years.
The streaks I used (and to no surprise, it features a lot of Kobe):
-Kevin Durant post Christmas 2013 to the All-Star Break in 2014 (without Westbrook)
-LeBron James 30 PPG streak from mid March to mid April 2006
-Tracy McGrady March 2003 featuring 14 straight 30+ point games
-Kobe Bryant March 2003 featuring 16 straight 30+ point games
-Kobe Bryant from Christmas 2005 till the end of January 2006 (featuring the 81 point game)
-Kobe Bryant mid-March 2006 to the end of the season.
-Kobe Bryant March 2007
(blue denotes highest, red lowest)
Curry’s streak is the shortest. Perhaps we should revisit this when/if he finally cools off to see what the total numbers bear. Otherwise it’s hard not to notice two things, Curry is shooting so much more efficiently than all the others (he is also 60% on two-pointers, a number no one comes close to in this sample) and Curry is playing significantly less minutes.
No one would dispute that Curry has the best team of the bunch. No one else in the sample went undefeated. And there is value in volume. It is harder to continue scoring with efficiency playing 40+ minutes, night after night.
Still, is Curry playing less minutes than the others because he’s incapable, or is he playing less minutes because he’s scoring so efficiently, the Warriors are often up big and he can rest? The teams margin of victory and general Net Differential when he’s on the floor suggest the latter.
So lets take it a step further and look at the numbers Per 36 minutes:
Curry is scoring the second-most per minute while averaging the most points per shot. He also has the second-most assists per minute, barely trailing Lebron James. His efficiency is off the charts comparatively. He is eviscerating opponents scoring nearly a point per minute while still keeping his teammates involved.
So is it the most impressive? Who knows. All the streaks listed above are highly impressive individual accomplishments. The context of each is different. Many of the above involve depleted or simply weak supporting casts. So I don’t think the question you should be asking is which is best, but simply to enjoy what Curry is doing right now. We do not get to see this type of performance very often, and when we do we should celebrate it.